Loblaw takes significant step toward digital health

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Loblaw takes significant step toward digital health
TORONTO — Loblaw Co. said on Monday that its wholly owned subsidiary Shoppers Drug Mart will invest $75 million in Maple Corp., the leading virtual care provider in Canada, in exchange for a material minority stake in Loblaw.Maple is a thriving Canadian telemedicine provider that allows patients to connect online with a variety of healthcare professionals, including general practitioners, specialists and allied health professionals. As the country evolves to a more digitally enabled healthcare system, telemedicine/virtual care has emerged as a key enabler of reliable and convenient access to care.

The company said this investment is an important step as Shoppers Drug Mart looks to make this service more accessible, with a goal to provide a seamless experience for patients as they move between virtual and in-person care.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that Canadians need new ways, particularly virtual ways, to get access to care,” said Jeff Leger, president of Shoppers Drug Mart. “We know that the future of health care is digitally enabled. We believe that our store network and infrastructure, combined with Maple’s technology can help better connect Canadians to the health care support they need, whenever and wherever they are.”

Prior to the transaction, Shoppers Drug Mart said it worked closely with Maple on two strategic initiatives that gave the company an opportunity to understand Maple’s service offering. Maple virtual care is currently available in more than 160 Shoppers Drug Mart locations in British Columbia.

Additionally, in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the two companies said they worked together to make virtual care more accessible for Canadians. In less than a month, this initiative enabled nearly 20,000 virtual care visits, during a time when Canadians were asked to stay home and stay safe. In addition to these initiatives, Maple’s history of implementing custom telehealth solutions for governments, hospitals, employers, and insurers made the investment in Maple an attractive choice.

“We’ve watched virtual care solve some of the most complex healthcare issues around the globe, as well as right here in Canada through our own programs,” says Dr. Brett Belchetz, CEO and co-founder of Maple. “We’re thrilled to work hand-in-hand with Shoppers Drug Mart to bring the reliable, convenient, and high-quality access to care that we’ve developed over the past five years to more Canadians than ever before.”

Led by Shoppers Drug Mart, the leader in Canada’s retail drug store marketplace and the number one provider of pharmacy products and services, Loblaw offers full-service pharmacies and professional care from 5,000 healthcare professionals in more than 1,800 locations in 10 provinces and 2 territories.

The investment in Maple is another building block in Loblaw’s connected healthcare strategy, along with QHR, a leader in the electronic medical records market, providing software and a virtual care service (Medeo) for health care providers and their patients; Wellwise, a retail experience from Shoppers Drug Mart, created for Canadians who want to take charge of the way they age; and The Health Clinic by Shoppers, managed primary-care and family practice clinics, providing patients with convenient, one-stop access to medical services and trusted advice.



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